After weeks of being led by Donald Trump in polls, most of the Republican presidential field has learned there is hardly anything they can do to knock him off his game. He’s insulted John McCain’s war record, accused Megyn Kelly of bleeding from her “whatever” and generally done a series of things and made public statements that any Republican consultant would advise their client to steer clear of.
And instead of suffering for them, Trump is triumphant, with an average lead of 11% over the next best Republican candidate, Jeb Bush who’s campaign war chest that was supposed to scare everybody off looking impotent.
Then Trump announced his latest kooky idea, but instead of something off the cuff, it was actually rolled out as a policy proposal: Ending birthright citizenship, which is enshrined in the 14th Amendment to the Constitution.
Birthright citizenship is what happens when people are born in America automatically become Americans, no matter what the legal status of their parents are (I speak from experience here, as a first-generation American born to Jamaican parents with green cards but no U.S. Citizenship).
The idea has stood for 147 years, since it was adopted in1868 by the states..
Trump said “nah” and the amazing thing that followed was that half of the Republicans who are running for president agreed. Instead of bucking Trump, pointing out that this idea is crazy and unworkable, they looked at the polls too and said “we’re in.”
When asked about ending birthright citizenship, Scott Walker said “yeah.”
Bobby Jindal said “We need to end birthright citizenship for illegal immigrants.”
When running for Governor, John Kasich said he supports ending birthright citizenship.
Rand Paul has said birthright citizenship doesn’t apply to the children of undocumented immigrants, and pushed for an amendment that said so
Chris Christie thinks birthright citizenship, part of the Constitution for 147 years, needs to be examined
Rick Santorum called birthright citizenship an “enticement” to illegal immigration while calling for it to be repealed
Lindsey Graham has considered a push for a Constitutional amendment to end birthright citizenship.
That is about half the entire field of Republicans running for president, and based on the recent failure of running counter to Trump, it could be even more of them that get behind the Donald’s first “real” policy portrayal, lest they fall further behind him.
It also aims at the heart of the Republican Party’s already doomed effort to reach out to Latino voters. Trump has already become the party’s figurehead within this group. Trump became a pinata to be bashed after calling Mexicans rapists, someone that an artist like Pitbull calls out at a Spanish-language award show to rapturous applause.
And here he is, with a “policy” prescription that would wipe out the Constitutional promise to millions of citizens born right here on American soil, the same promise that gives them the right to vote, and the Republican presidential field is out, loud and proud in favor of abolishing it, setting fire to it, led by their front runner and backed by others in the field that have more serious pedigrees.
Democratic ad makers should feel like gold prospectors having struck the motherlode with this latest Trump stunt, because the right has opened Pandora’s box.
Even if the eventual nominee runs screaming away from this position, this is something that once you screw with it, you cannot un-screw. Mitt Romney didn’t publicly support Todd Akin’s “legitimate rape” comment, but even the likes of Karl Rove has admitted that it hurt him anyways.
Republican presidential candidates are circling the wagon around repealing birthright citizenship, led by Trump, and they may have just signed their own electoral death warrant.